Michael Meehan’s blue-chip academic background in the arts crystallizes in his pensive and elegant body of paintings. His most recent series is no exception – housed in GEARY Contemporary’s downtown gallery space, Ice Bather is a ten piece repetition of a dreamy bathhouse scene. The image is directly inspired by a memory of Meehan’s of a day spent at a Swedish steam bath with an ex-girlfriend and together cutting a makeshift channel into the water.
Whether the hole exists as an exit or an entrance is unknown as the figure rests suspended in time and place on the steps of a metal ladder. With her face turned away, the female bather is also depersonalized from Meehan’s original memory, opening up an array of possible narratives for the viewer to ultimately decide upon. The only thing truly evident is the cold. The enveloping blue hues and overcast finish shape a wintry mood that is palpably felt beyond the canvas. The fact that the bather does not shiver in front of our eyes makes the scene’s stillness even more striking.
Though the ten images copy one another, subtle differences inherently arise in each rendition of the scene, evoking the dynamic and affectable nature of the painting process. Additionally, the slight changes in colors, lines, positioning, rhythm, and more create a unique experience for every individual viewer from any vantage point. The narrative possibilities are thus further expanded, as Meehan presents the opportunity to explore a single moment ad infinitum.